Sunday, August 21, 2016

Healthy Herbs by Linda Woolven

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Healthy Herbs
by Linda Woolven

ISBN-13: 9781550413298
Trade Paperback: 245 pages
Publisher: Fitzhenry & Whiteside
Released: Sept. 26, 2006

Source: Bought as a used book.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Master herbalist Linda Woolven and Natural Path publisher Ted Snider have assembled a completely up-to-date guide to medicinal herbs that is comprehensive and immensely practical. Healthy Herbs brings a refreshing simplicity to an enormous body of medicinal herbal knowledge. The book identifies which herb is best for what condition while providing:

*Clear instruction on the safe and effective use of each herb
*Only herbs that are readily available in North America
*Up-to-date information on herbal science in straightforward, jargon-free language
*Authoritative home-use instruction
*Teas, tinctures, infusions, decoctions, pills, and liquids

My Review:
Healthy Herbs is a reference book for the use of medicinal herbs. Most of the herbs are easily available at health food stores, and the rest can be found online. The authors assume you're going to buy these herbs at a store, so they gear their information that way even if it's a plant that you can find growing wild.

The herbs are listed by name, so you can look them up or just read through the whole book like I did. For each herb, we're told the scientific research involving the herb--what it's good for and how to use it. This often matches the traditional uses for the herb. They included dosing information for taking the herb as a tea, extract, tincture, or pill and any safety information about using it with other medications or during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

I've repeatedly read how whole herbs have few to no side effects (unlike the "active ingredient only" drugs that are based on them), so I'm interested in using herbs medicinally. I found this book to be very helpful, informative, and interesting.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Lessons in Classical Painting by Juliette Aristides

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Lessons in Classical Painting
by Juliette Aristides

ISBN-13: 9781607747895
Hardback: 248 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptil
Released: July 26th 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher through Blogging for Books.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
With a direct, easy-to-follow approach, Juliette Aristides presents aspiring artists with the fundamental skills and tools needed to master painting in the atelier style.

With more than 25 years of experience in ateliers and as an art instructor, Aristides pairs personal examples and insights with theory, assignments and demonstrations for readers, discussions of technical issues, and inspirational quotes. After taking a bird's eye look at painting as a whole, Aristides breaks down painting into big picture topics like grisaille, temperature, and color, demonstrating how these key subjects can be applied by all painters.

My Review:
Lessons in Classical Painting contained foundational lessons for painting "in the atelier style." This isn't for absolute beginners since the author assumed you have done some painting and doesn't cover equipment basics. Rather, it's a series of lessons that build on each other to improve your painting.

The author talked about a topic then provided a lesson or two to help you learn and apply that principle. She'd tell you the goal of the lesson and how to choose a subject rather than assume you'll do the exact same painting that's in the demonstration. This allows you to practice the lesson more than once (if you wish) and to pick a topic you'll enjoy painting. I really appreciated this. This is the only painting book I've ever read where I decided to do every single lesson in the book.

The paintings used as illustrations ranged from the old masters to works by the author and many other current artists. Nearly every painting was a lesson in itself or illustrated a point in the text. The topics that she covered included really looking, basic shapes and the values that create an object, how to organize a scene, under-painting, monotone paintings, light as a way to reveal form and create a mood, working with a limited palette, color temperature, color theory, color mixing, and more. You can apply these lessons to any type of oil painting (still life, portraits, landscapes, etc.).

The author clearly defined her terms. She was easy to understand, and I felt no confusion when following her directions. I'm probably an advanced beginner, and I think her lessons have really helped to improve my painting. I'd recommend this book to oil painters who aim for some level of realism in their paintings.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Food Forensics by Mike Adams

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Food Forensics
by Mike Adams

ISBN-13: 9781940363288
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: BenBella Books
Released: July 26, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Award-winning investigative journalist and activist Mike Adams, the “Health Ranger,” is founder and editor of, the number one most visited natural health website in the world.

Adams and his team test the things we eat every day to expose the hidden truth about the contaminants in our foods. They have tested levels of lead, arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and additives in common foods, from cereals, soups, and other pre-packaged meals to fast food and medicinal herbs. Adams’s tests reveal the differences between organic and non-organic foods, GMO and non-GMO certified foods, and more.

Food Forensics discloses how food contamination happens and why it matters, and provides valuable information on how you can protect yourself.

My Review:
In Food Forensics, the author talks about his mission and his lab where he tests food for toxic contaminants. He described how toxic metals get into your food, what happens when you eat that food, and what will actually help rid your body of these toxins. He went into detail about dangerous metals (arsenic, mercury, cadmium, aluminum, copper, tin), chemical contaminants (BPA, BPS, hexane, pesticides), food ingredients (aspartame, MSG, artificial colors, and much more), and animal feed contamination.

He also described what foods help your body to detox from these dangers. He pointed out that this is a natural, everyday process and mentioned easy-to-find foods that help the process.

A large section of the book was a list of foods--including organic and superfoods--that he's tested in his lab and the levels of toxins they contained. Unfortunately, this was such a mess on my ebook review copy that I can't tell how useful it actually is. It looked like simple rows of numbers, though, so you'd need to do some interpreting of those numbers.

The author painted a very depressing view of things: every food seems to have some level of toxic load, it would take generations to reverse this if we started now, and there's no hope that this will change this anytime soon with big business more concerned with profits than long-term health.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals by Richard Stemp

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The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals
by Richard Stemp

ISBN-13: 9781780289618
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Watkins Publishing
Released: July 19, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Who is depicted in that stained glass window? What is the significance of those geometric figures? Why are there fierce-looking beasts carved amidst all that beauty? Is there a deeper purpose behind the play of light and space in the nave? Why is there a pelican on the lectern and ornate foliage on the pillars? The largely illiterate medieval audience could read the symbols of churches and cathedrals and recognize the meanings and stories deliberately encoded into them.

Today, in an age less attuned to iconography, such places of worship are often seen merely as magnificent works of architecture. This book restores the lost spiritual meaning of these fine and fascinating buildings. It provides a three-part illustrated key by which modern visitors can understand the layout, fabric and decorative symbolism of Christian sacred structures.

Part One is an analysis of structural features, outside and in, from spires and domes to clerestories and brasses.

Part Two is a theme-by-theme guide, which identifies significant figures, scenes, stories, animals, flowers, and the use of numbers, letters and patterns in paintings, carvings and sculpture.

Part Three is a historical decoder, revealing the evolution of styles - from basilicas through Byzantine, Romanesque, Gothic and beyond.

For all those who seek to know more about Christian art and architecture, this richly illustrated book will instruct and delight in equal measure.

My Review:
The Secret Language of Churches & Cathedrals provides a tour of these buildings, explaining the practical, historical, and symbolic reasons behind their features. The author looked at Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches.

The first part described what you see as you approach and enter the building and explained the architectural features found in a typical cathedral or church. The second part looked at the paintings and sculptures and identified various people and common symbols and scenes for those of us not "in the know." The third part looked at the elements found in the earliest churches and how they changed throughout history.

The book contained many full-color pictures from the outside and inside of churches to illustrate the points made in the text. For paintings, we're shown the overall ceiling, then detail shots with descriptions of what is being show in that section.

I once went on a study abroad tour were we visited many cathedrals. I felt like I was missing half of what I was seeing because I didn't know the intent behind it. I'd recommend this book to those planning on touring cathedrals or who are just interested in the topic.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Fantasy Artroom by Aaron Pocock

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The Fantasy Artroom
by Aaron Pocock

ISBN-13: 9780486801247
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: May 18, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Do you love to create imaginative artwork? Would you like to add depth and richness to your creations? Could you use fresh inspiration? Here is the book that will help you brush up on your skills and add new tricks and techniques to your repertoire.

These step-by-step demonstrations offer easy-to-follow methods for drawing trees and landscapes; forming dwarves, witches, mermaids, centaurs, and other characters; and putting them all together into enchanting compositions. Introduce a new dimension to your drawing, line art, and watercolor images with this richly illustrated guide and its helpful exercises, tips, and suggestions.

My Review:
The Fantasy Artroom teaches how to draw, ink, and use watercolor to create fantasy artwork. The author assumed that you have no art training. He generally suggested the minimal necessary tools to get you started, and he gave tips on how to use these tools to get good results. He provided step-by-step demonstrations on how to draw a scene element (like a rock, tree, dragon, water, etc.) or whole fantasy scene. He broke the steps down enough that I felt confident as I did the demo and in using that information to create my own scenes. He was very encouraging and made art seem do-able for everyone.

He taught how to sketch or draw a scene, how to ink the scene using a dip pen or ink pens, and how to paint colored scenes using watercolors. His tips on using dip pens and watercolors were very useful. He showed how to use reference photographs, like using a picture of a lizard to create a better dragon. He talked about composing and story-telling in the scene. He provided demos on landscape elements, texture, and a variety of fantasy creatures (from griffins to trolls, mermaids, fairies, and more).

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone--young or old--who would like to learn how to create or improve their fantasy artwork.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Oil Painting Essentials by Gregg Kreutz

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Oil Painting Essentials
by Gregg Kreutz

ISBN-13: 9780804185431
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Released: May 24, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Many painters limit themselves to a particular genre out of habit or fear, but in Oil Painting Essentials, art instructor Gregg Kreutz reveals how connected oil painting techniques are no matter what subject an artist tackles. Arranged by essential artistic focal points, each chapter reveals the challenges and rewards that painters face when covering specific genres.

Through step-by-step lessons and examples from the works of oil painting masters past and present, Kreutz shows how artists can strengthen their skillset for one type of subject matter by painting in another area they may not be as familiar with. This comprehensive breakdown of oil painting provides all of the tools that painters need to successfully take on any type of oil painting.

My Review:
Oil Painting Essentials was about aspects of composition that the author then applied to painting portraits, naked women, still lifes, cityscapes, and interiors. It's not a "how to paint" book, and these principles apply to more than just oil painting. If you've got a decent painting but you feel like it's lacking something, he'll suggest how to add "drama" to your painting.

He teaches you to paint in the same style that he does. He paints backgrounds with little to no detail--and often very dark--then he spotlights his point of interest, which is painted in detail. Some of his favorite principles were about being selective about what to show in detail, using contrasting colors or values, and making light the main event.

He did include basic painting principles that apply to all styles of painting. He also did a good job of defining what he meant by a term so I wasn't confused. The paintings that he used to illustrate a point were good at showing that point. If you like his style, he'll certainly help you to paint that way.

But I didn't really care for his style as the subjects lack context. Also, I sometimes wondered about his tips when he'd say something like, 'this makes the fruit clearly look like a nectarine' and I'm thinking, 'oh, is that what it is? I thought maybe it was an apple.' So his tips didn't always work on me.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Saving My Assassin by Virginia Prodan

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Saving My Assassin
by Virginia Prodan

ISBN-13: 9781496411846
Trade Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: June 7, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
At just under five feet tall, Virginia Prodan was no match for the towering 6' 10" gun-wielding assassin the Romanian government sent to her office to take her life. It was not the first time her life had been threatened--nor would it be the last.

As a young attorney under Nicolae Ceausescu's brutal communist regime, Virginia had spent her entire life searching for the truth. When she finally found it in the pages of the most forbidden book in all of Romania, Virginia accepted the divine call to defend fellow followers of Christ against unjust persecution in an otherwise ungodly land.

For this act of treason, she was kidnapped, beaten, tortured, placed under house arrest, and came within seconds of being executed under the orders of Ceausescu himself. A must-read for all generations, "Saving My Assassin" is the unforgettable account of one woman's search for truth, her defiance in the face of evil, and a surprise encounter that proves without a shadow of a doubt that nothing is impossible with God.

My Review:
Saving My Assassin is a memoir about Virginia Prodan's life in Romania. It starts in 1961 (when she was 6 years old) and ends in 1988 (plus an epilogue). It's an awesome story about God's work in Romania and how he used Virginia to make a difference.

The author talked about growing up under the communist regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Due to certain family circumstances, she longed to find (and defend) the truth and thought she could do this as an attorney. She described the challenges of working as an attorney and following Christ in those years. She talked about some of the cases she took defending Christians and the threats and harm she endured for doing so.

Her story gives God glory for working things together for good--even when she couldn't see it at the time. Like when she faced an assassin in her office or felt completely cut off from any friends during a house arrest. It's an amazing and encouraging story, and I had a hard time putting down. I'd highly recommend it to anyone interested in what life was like in Romania under Ceausescu and to Christians seeking encouragement about taking risks when God calls you to them.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.